July 20, 2015:

Leigh Spicher

Design is everywhere. It captures us, consumes us whether we realize it or not. Think about it. Does a day ever pass that you fail to notice an extraordinary building. Maybe it towers high above anything you’ve ever imagined.

Ivo Jansch: The Empire State BuildingThomas Hawk – The Empire State Building

Or perhaps it’s so old you wonder how it’s still standing and how it was ever built to sustain such history and time.

www.theviewfromthere.comwww.theviewfromrightthere.com

or I truly marvel most at my children’s “sheet forts” that seem to take over my family room on any given day.

All of these beautiful structures require a creative process and insight. Life is happening in some unique way within all of these spaces. Someone had the vision and skill to bring these special places to life. This brings me to my job. Homes. The truest of special places. I’ve now had the pleasure of experiencing the home building industry as a profession for more than a decade, and what has happened within that decade is truly remarkable…especially as it applies to design and livability. Let me give you a quick glimpse:

Fifteen years ago (think way back to the very beginning of the Millennia…even before the iPhone) …bigger homes, bigger finishes…the McMansions (as us insiders called them) were the norm and what we all aspired to. As an industry, we built models that overflowed with extravagant theater rooms, bars, fifth and sixth bedrooms and bonus rooms for anything leftover. We finished these rooms with elaborate “faux” paint, bouncy carpet and as many knick knacks as you could find. Who knew ceramic ponies and chickens could be so cool? Our industry created factories (dubbed Design Centers)…big boxes for choosing appliances, cabinets, elaborate tiles and floor medallions.

Fast forward. The world was spending too much. We got greedy (yes, I said it), and it caught up with us as a society. The market crashed. My beloved home-building world almost stopped. But then, something amazing happened. As a society, we learned, we grew, we got wiser. And, I dare say, happier.

What became of the McMansions and the lush lifestyle? This is my favorite part. We still live for the finer things, but we’ve now gotten more personal, more real. What’s important to me and my family? What do I value? These questions have replaced the race for what’s next and what’s bigger and better. People want homes that are meaningful and reflect their lifestyle, not necessarily that of their neighbors. Keeping up with the Jones’ is over. Quality, function and beauty prevail. Enter the new Studio by Ashton Woods.

The Studio by Ashton Woods has an exceptional story. When the market told us we needed to change, we did. We didn’t quit. We didn’t give up on “homes”. We asked ourselves the question, “What can we do to be different, to make a difference?” We decided to switch gears. Design found its true calling. AW wanted to make lives better, to build and finish homes that are suitable to the individual, not the masses. We now ask the question, “What is your vision for your home?” We’ve left behind the big box mentality and built our Studios. Notice the change from Design Center to Studio? I mean, really…the old term “Design Center” makes me think of an old strip mall where the kids might ride one of those dime-store pony rides…

Back to the new Studio…

The Studio lives to find inspiration and unique design to bring to homeowners. We focus on local culture, but bring global design to our customers through extraordinary design partners and studying the world for innovative design finishes and solutions. What’s unique at the AW Studios? Well, there are a few really notable things:

#1.  The People – We aren’t order takers or sliding groceries through a scanner for sales. We are friends (seriously, I consider myself lucky to know these people). We are cool, hip people who want desperately to help create the home you always dreamed of. We are creative, educated and well-versed in what is happening in design today. We want to get to know you…hear about college days, what the kids are up to and what the dog chewed up yesterday. Like any good friend, we will share our passion and knowledge for things that will make your life more organized, easier and better. Let’s be real, though; you want it beautiful and social-media worthy too. In essence, the new Studio experience is fun. The Studio is a place where you can find a way to make sense of all the design chatter out there. I mean, I live and breathe design, and it’s still pretty overwhelming to me to search all of the different resources available to us now. We are constantly being filled with ideas about what is cool, cheap and easy to do all on our own. If you value the true nature of design and its principles, it’s not as subjective as you might think. Our people, our designers, will make a true difference in your home-building journey. In short, our people are awesome, and they want to make your home a better place for you.

#2. The Space – I make one promise to you. You’ve never seen anything like it. It’s not like a typical Saturday visit to Home Depot. It’s more like a journey to a special destination…a place you want to tell your friends about (bring your camera for a selfie in front of our lighting gallery or one of our gourmet kitchens). Come visit us. We will give you a tour through the hallway of inspiration and take you on a journey of beautiful finishes. The Studio looks like a place you might want to visit on vacation, with lots of amazing art, some fresh food…oh, and some fun and interesting people to guide you along the way (but I said that already).

#3. The Product – I’ll make you another promise. You will find some really amazing products in our Studios. We partner with some of the best trade partners and brands out there, and we travel the world to find products you’ll use. You might even see some blank space; think of it like an empty exhibit at the Smithsonian or the Louvre. It means something extra special is on its way. You won’t see an old dinosaur, but you will find something that you could put in your home that will make you smile every day. We don’t pretend to have all the answers or all the products. That’s why we collaborate with you, the homebuyer, our friend, to share with us what you’ve seen and experienced. That’s why we constantly source new product and exceed your expectations.

The 21st century also has changed homebuilding, and AW has been there every step of the way. Our Studios are extraordinary. They are not only state-of-the-art, but personal and fun. Every day, we dream of the tallest buildings and how to make them taller, but we also value the true nature of life and how we aspire to live in our “sheet forts”. Call us. Come visit. We’d love to hear your ideas about designing your AW home.

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